Friday, November 9, 2007

Falafel with Homemade Pitas

When I told the boys we were going to have falafel tonight their eyes lit up like I just told them we would be eating cake and ice cream. They absolutely love Isa's falafel and tahini dressing from Vegan With a Vengeance! The other part of the equation is my homemade pitas. These take a bit of time, but aren't hard to make and are totally worth it. They are so tender and soft--not like the dry, crumbly, stale pitas they sell at my grocery store.

Makes 6--feel free to double
- 2 cups white bread flour (substitute up to half of the flour with whole wheat flour if you want)
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
- 2/3 cup warm water
- 2 tsp olive oil

1. Sift flour and salt into a large bowl. In a smaller bowl, dissolve yeast into water, then stir in olive oil. Pour into flour. Stir into a rough dough.
2. Knead dough on a lightly floured surface (or in a counter top mixer with a dough hook) for 5 min, until smooth. Dough will be a bit tougher than regular bread--don't worry, it will soften when it rises. Place in a large clean bowl, cover with lightly oiled plastic wrap and let double in size in a warm place (about 1 hour).
4. Punch down dough, divide into six, and shape into 6 balls. Brush with oil, cover with plastic wrap and let rest 5 mins.
5. Roll each ball into an oval or circle, about 1/4 inch thick. Place on a floured dish towel, brush with oil, and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise for 30 mins.
6. While dough is rising, place 2 cookie sheets in the oven and heat to 450. Heat is crucial here--make sure the oven is good and hot.
7. Remove cookie sheets from the oven. Quickly put 2-3 pitas on each and put back in the oven. Bake until pitas puff up (about 4 mins). This is the coolest part--they inflate like beach balls. Once all pitas have puffed, remove from oven and cool on racks. When cooled, wrap in a tea towel to keep soft.

These pitas don't stay fresh for long. If you won't be using them up in a day or two, put them in the freezer.